- Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery
Rob Hart’s Ash McKenna is fast becoming one of my favorite private eyes. The unlicensed detective travels from place to place with more regret than his shoulders should carry. In the latest, South Village, we get an examination of the character as well as a finely crafted mystery.
Ash plans to get out of the country in case the police in Portland connect him to a murder he committed in the last novel, Rose City. While waiting for a passport, he goes back to his friends commune in Georgia, where he has been laying low and learning to cook. The night of his arrival back, one of the commune members, Crusty Pete, is killed. Ash finds the murder tied to ecoterrorism, the FBI, and betrayal, with the novel The Monkey Wrench Gang playing a part.
The commune serves as a perfect setting for Ash to interact with at this point in his life. Unlike many detectives who are bonded to their home town, Ash is rootless after his first appearance in New Yorked. The denizens are all about connections while Ash attempts to keep his distance. This is best reflected in the relationship he has with Aesop, the former marine teaching him to cook, who has a few secrets of his own. Hart often describes the meals the two prepare with pathos, as Ash pours himself into helping a group he feels he can never join.
South Village works as a great stepping on point to Ash McKenna’s world or worlds. He is a wounded rolling stone you can’t help but root for. In many ways he is the true private eye descendant of the western hero, protecting a society that can’t accept him, and in which he has no permanent place.
You can find copies of Rob Hart’s latest on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. Rob Hart comes to BookPeople to speak and sign his latest on Friday, October 21st, at 7 PM. He’ll be joined by Texas writers Reavis Wortham and Tim Bryant for the event.
Click “attending” on our Facebook event and we’ll provide you with giveaways at the event!